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Rhys James: Spilt Milk at Pleasance Courtyard Pleasance One - Ed Fringe

Review by Lucy Holz


A seasoned professional of the stand-up game, this is the thirteenth Edinburgh Fringe show for Rhys James. Well known for his performances on Mock the Week, James has gone from one to watch to a household name across the UK.


Thirty minutes before show start and the queue is already winding about Pleasance Courtyard and the venue itself is packed. Once seated we are treated to a range of intros by sports commentators talking about the recently famous footballer, Reece James. Lamenting that he has “ruined his career”, James begins his set with this immediate audio sounding board.


Acknowledging the kind of crowd who frequent a Tuesday night comedy show at Edinburgh Fringe, we are the constant butt of jokes. However, whenever he feels like he might have gone a little too far he is quick to pull it back, creating a perfect mix of biting comments and self-deprecation.


An expert at the craft, James ensures his show isn’t just a string of funny witticisms. Introducing key elements early on, we are immediately privy to inside jokes that are revisited throughout the set. This gives the show a firm structure for James to work within and a beautiful story arc to round off the evening.


This technique is so effective that I assume he has gone slightly under time, only to check and see he’s run for the full hour. So cohesive is his set that you barely even notice the time passing.


His delivery is deliberately casual and off beat, quickly slipping in a follow-up joke when we’re still laughing at the previous punchline. Each story the audience is told is littered with jokes, so much so that we barely even realise they’re part of a cohesive narrative.


With some audience interaction, James expertly handles a potentially dicey answer from his chosen candidate, before sliding into his prepared material. Ending with a bang, we are brought full circle and end right where we began.


With no real overarching message, this show is classic stand-up. The audience are here for jokes and that’s what we get (often at our expense). Rhys James may have become harder to google thanks to a certain footballer, but he still has a name as a fantastic UK comic.

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